Sodexo has launched its new Origins employee network, hosting a panel debate on the issue of racial, cultural and religious diversity at its London HQ.

The Origins network aims to encourage inclusivity and cohesion by celebrating the diversity of culture, heritage and beliefs amongst Sodexo’s people and by promoting equal opportunities for all. Origins is Sodexo’s third employee network and follows in the successful footsteps of the Generations and WomenWork networks, which were established in 2014 and 2010 respectively.

The panel debate was hosted by Paul Sesay, founder of the National Diversity Awards, and was attended by employees from across the business.

Cultures and Origins is one of six target areas within Sodexo’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy. Sodexo UK and Ireland has an incredibly diverse workforce with over 138 nationalities represented. The business is committed to improving the representation of minority ethnic groups within its management population, building cultural awareness and competence and creating a work environment in which individuality and individual needs are respected.

The launch of the Origins Network is one of several initiatives being undertaken by Sodexo as part of the workstream. Other activities include reviewing job adverts and marketing materials, reviewing recruitment pathways to explore barriers to application/promotion and reviewing talent by ethnicity.

Chris John, Sodexo’s COO, Global Events and executive sponsor of the Origins network said; “As a people-based business working across numerous segments and markets, diversity and inclusion is absolutely critical to Sodexo’s success.

“The Origins Network has a really important role to play in promoting racial, cultural and religious diversity within our business. We are hoping to offer a forum for open and honest debate, so the panel event was a great way to kick-start the conversation and engage our teams on these important issues.”

The Origins Network will deliver a series of educational webinars and podcasts looking at issues that are relevant to the network. It will also help Sodexo celebrate major religious and cultural events and will, as with Sodexo’s other employee networks, offer opportunities for personal and professional development.

With 34,000 employees working at over 1,800 locations across the UK. employee networks play a vital role in ensuring that Sodexo’s Diversity and Inclusion agenda reaches and is relevant to employees at all levels and in all segments of the business.

Since its launch in September 2014, the Generations Network has attracted over 350 members. The network has played a vital role in shaping the Generation Workstream’s agenda, creating ‘generation champions’ and promoting awareness of generational differences and the benefits of intergenerational working. It was recently recognised in Inclusive Network’s 2015 list of ‘Awesome Networks’ and was also shortlisted in the BITC’s Responsible Business Awards in the Championing an Ageing Workforce category.

Sodexo’s Womenwork Network is a gender balance network open to both men and women. The network works to promote gender balance in the organisation through networking, education and training and mentoring programmes.

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